BVN: 8 years after, over 59m accounts yet to be linked

Almost eight year after the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) for all account holders to curb fraud and theft, over 59 million accounts remained unlinked.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) shows that the total BVN count as at January 16th 2022 has reached 52.1 million. Compared to the 111.5 million number of bank accounts as of May 2020, the figure shows that 60.34 million remained unlinked as of the period.

Inferring from this, analysts have shown concern for the slow pace of adoption of the scheme which is yet to reach half of those operating a bank account in Nigeria after 7 years of implementation, noting that the delay is a stumbling block to addressing issues of identity theft and reducing exposure to fraud.

On February 14, 2014, CBN in collaboration with the bankers’ committee launched a $50 million BVN project as a deterrent for illicit fund transfers. The framework would also aid the apex bank in tracing such transactions.

According to CBN, the goal of the Bank Verification Number is to verify each Bank’s customer’s unique identity; tagged ‘know your customer’ (KYC), the initiative would help address identity theft, reduce fraud within the system. Overall, it would enhance transparency and credibility in the financial services sector.

Speaking on the development and how it would help to position banking in Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the central bank said, “This entails for instance to reclassify and segregate transactions that could be done on BVN. We have two classifications. The existing BVN that we have in the system has about 18 lines of information. If you are on BVN lite there is a limit to the kind of transactions you can do in terms of deposit and in terms of loans.”

“The important thing is that we want to make you financially included where you can conduct basic banking services. Our people in the rural communities who have BVN lite will later be migrated to the BVN premium when you meet all the requirements”

Bank Verification Number is a unique number that allows individual accounts to be verified across the Nigerian banking industry. The unique ID number is issued to every bank customer at enrolment and linked to every account that the customer has with all Nigerian banks.